New text number steers NJ kids to summer meals
As the school year ends for children across New Jersey, the USDA has announced a new text number that parents and other caregivers can use to find free meals for children this summer.
People can text "summer meals" to 97779 or visit fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks to find local sites. Both the text number and website provide locations, meals served and times meals are served, based on a person's zip code.
"This is an easy way for parents and other caregivers to find meal sites,'' said Adele LaTourette, director, New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition. "We are also encouraging community organizations, schools and local government to publicize this resource in their communities.''
More than 1,300 New Jersey communities will be serving meals to help fill the summertime nutrition gap, especially for children who rely on school meals during the academic year.
Funded through the federal government, these meals are provided free to children 18 and under. At "open" sites, where enrollment in a program is not required, children can simply go to a location and receive a meal. Parents do not need to provide identification or proof of income for their children to be eligible.
In addition to providing free, healthy meals, these programs also offer an opportunity for children 18 years and younger to play together, engage in enrichment activities, hone their academic skills and be better prepared when they return to school in September, LaTourette said.
New Jersey has made strong progress in serving meals to more children. A recent national report ranked the state 6th in the U.S. for serving more meals to children - up from 12th last year.